Saturday, June 23, 2012

Mike Trout Is Baseball's Prodigy of Tomorrowland


Selected by the Los Angeles Angels No. 25 overall of the 2009 draft, Mike Trout is baseball's sensation. He's the next boy wonder and stands out in the majors as the most mentioned prospect in recent memory. This is what the Angels needed, a slugger with much potential, pleading his case for AL MVP honors. By watching him play and listening to him speak sharply, he's not your normal 20-year-old kid who is trying to discover himself in the professional ranks. He's stepping into the batter's box each time at Angels Stadium and even on the road, seizing every moment he's on the field.

There he was again on Friday night, the team's rally monkey -- and perhaps this season -- he is a rookie phenom who everyone likes to cuddle like a teddy bear. He swung. He hit. It flew. That's the kind of night Trout had when he came to the plate and smashed a go-ahead home run to break a 5-5 tie in the fourth-inning, watching the ball sail over the fence and circling the bases. Trout, promoted from Triple-A Salt Lake on April 27th, is a humbled, smart baseball prodigy making his home here in Southern California and has been welcomed with open arms by lifeless Angels’ fans.

His team, one of the hottest ballclubs in baseball since Trout was called up and inserted into the starting lineup, rallied from behind for an 8-5 victory over the Dodgers. It's quite telling the Angels are in position to strike in the AL West, five games back of the Texas Rangers, with Trout scoring more runs and hitting for a higher average than any other A.L. player in two months. More impressively, he's only a kid and has the mind of a well-experienced veteran quickly approaching the end of his career. With so much promise, he definitely fits in with the Angels, not cocky, not pretentious and instead is a likable, coachable kid who has a widened smile and has fun playing the game, standing and laughing with his teammates in the dugout.

Before Trout arrived to the big leagues for another opportunity, now that he's in the starting lineup each day to produce runs with his swings at bat, the Angels were 6-14 and his bat rejuvenated a sterile battling lineup. These days, it seems the Angels are twice as better with Trout's power and athletic quickness to be an aggressive base-stealer, a trait the Halos commit to commonly, such as running the bases effectively and moving runners into scoring position. It's rather surprising to realize Albert Pujols, who signed a 10-year deal with the Angels worth over $200, is not the player everyone is keeping a close eye on when it happens to be Trout providing a spark atop the batting order.

It seemed, despite that he hit .403 before he was eligible for the big leagues, as if he'd never be promoted with the Angels already having a plethora of veteran outfielders at the beginning of the season. Much happened between that time and the Angels struggled mightily, leaving them with no choice but to make changes. It wasn't long ago that they released an underachieving Bobby Abreu, and shortly after, Vernon Wells sustained an injury as the Angels went with Trout as the leadoff man, followed by Torii Hunter, Pujols and Mark Trumbo. This, of course, has been an advantage for Trout, growing and improving as a perennial hitter with Hunter as his consultant on and off the field. And remarkably, he's easily the most powerful hitter in the American League, hitting a league-leading .383, with seven homers and 29 runs batted in.

He is, as we know by now, the most feared hitter in baseball, at least momentarily, and has been in consideration for the Most Valuable Player award. The rationale for his surge is inexplicably hard to justify but startling as the sudden growth of a rookie awe fans in a high-market sports town, where baseball is not really a top priority.

In essence, Mike Scioscia, Angels well-respected skipper, believes he's the needed bat to have a fair advantage in the AL West, even when he says it is far too early to regard Trout among the top players in the league.

It may be far too crazy not to regard him among the top players in the league.